Joint statement by Coventry University and University of Warwick VCs on the return of students
Tuesday 25 August 2020
This is a message from the Vice-Chancellors of Coventry University and the University of Warwick on students returning to Coventry and Warwickshire.
From September, our students will be arriving to study and live in Coventry, Leamington and Warwick district and the surrounding area. This year is going to look very different for all of us. We understand that you may have concerns around the safe integration of students in our communities and, with that in mind, we want to reassure you that the safety of our students, staff and our regional community is our absolute priority.
Like all organisations, we’ve been working hard to make our universities as ‘Covid-secure’ as possible. All of our actions align with or go beyond Government advice and we are ready to respond swiftly to public health issues whenever we need to.
Crucially, we and our Students’ Unions are in regular contact with public health officials, local authorities and the police in Coventry and Warwickshire to ensure a ‘joined up’ approach. We have worked together to develop consistent messages so that all members of our university communities know what they need to do to keep themselves and others safe.
We’d also like to share with you some of the measures we’re putting in place on our campuses and in the community to safely manage the return of students to the area:
- Quarantine – students in university-owned accommodation who have travelled from a country where quarantine is required, will be fully supported to observe isolation.
- ‘Covid-secure’ campuses – safety measures include social distancing at 2m wherever possible (aided by one-way systems and signage); reduced and reconfigured building and room capacity; increased ventilation, regular deep cleaning and disinfection; frequent access to hand sanitiser; face coverings where appropriate.
- Managing people – with social distancing in place, our campuses will not operate at full capacity for the foreseeable future. Numbers of staff and students attending each day will be much lower than usual, and kept to a minimum, through adjustments to the teaching timetable and staff continuing to work from home where possible.
- Managing travel – by moving to a blend of online and small group teaching, and extending the teaching/working day, we’ve been able to reduce the demand for public transport and spread it across the day. We're asking staff and students to only come to campus where necessary, and are also encouraging walking and cycling safely wherever possible.
- Test and trace - Both universities are working closely with the NHS to help identify those who may have been in ‘close contact’ with a positive case in our communities and react as quickly as possible. Rapid testing will be available on both campuses.
We are fortunate that health is a core subject for both of our universities; we train thousands of health professionals every year, our students work in our local hospitals and they stepped up to help the NHS during the peak of the pandemic. We’re experienced in delivering public health messages to our students so we have excellent support infrastructures already in place, with dedicated health and safety and student support staff as well as existing relationships with public health officials.
We know everyone is keen to get back to something approaching ‘normal’ as soon as possible. Just as schools need to reopen in the autumn to ensure a generation of children do not suffer, students need to get on with building their futures in our region, where so many people rely on them for their livelihoods.
That said, we take our responsibility for the welfare of our students, staff and local communities incredibly seriously. We are committed to doing everything we can to minimise risks and make the return of students as safe as possible for everyone.
Professor John Latham CBE, Vice-Chancellor, Coventry University
Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor, University of Warwick